Victims of Benny Judah's Ponzi scheme speak out - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/5/10

Victims of Benny Judah's Ponzi scheme speak out

By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Victims of Benny Judah's ponzi scheme are speaking out after he is given the maximum sentence.  In federal court on Friday, the 50-year-old was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Judah has been in federal custody since he pleaded guilty back in November to a Ponzi scheme involving more than 250 Lubbock investors.

Judge Sam Cummings sentenced Judah to 20 years for money laundering and an additional five years for the sale of unregistered securities, followed by three years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay back $59-million in restitution.

Julie Durham Hammer and Polly Durham Claypool made it a point to speak to Judah Friday at his sentencing. "He was stone faced, I saw no emotion, which was probably exactly what he was doing while he was scheming everyone," said Hammer.

Hammer says her family has known Judah since he was in junior high school. Her late father gave him his first job, her 91-year-old mother trusted him. She adores Benny and has been hurt so badly by this Ponzi scheme. "My parents had made him trustee of their five grandchildren's trusts and none of them have any trust funds left," said Hammer.

Hammer says the family lost at least $400,000.

Claypool who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 13 years ago, invested in Judah for future medical care. "He knew as he takes me to dinner, he knew as he gave me advice. I mean this is someone, that, is he crazy, is he a sociopath, how can he face me knowing damn well I don't have a clue, I don't have a bit of money," she said.

Judah operated many Lubbock restaurants and related businesses, including Excel Lease Fund.

Hammer and Claypool say they still can't believe the man they trusted did this. "I trusted Benny and what really scares me today is how I judge people because I really believed Benny was a good guy," said Claypool.

It's money they believe they will probably never see again. "I don't know how they are going to do it, but I really bet whatever it is, is not going to be significant enough to even make a difference," said Claypool.

And a prison sentence the family says falls short. "Truly what he has done is absolutely unconscionable, no 25 year is not enough," said Hammer.

Judah was also ordered to pay back $59-million in restitution. If his whole sentence his served, he will be 75 when he is released.

Judah addressed the court before sentencing, apologizing to his family and investors, but asking them to remember the good deeds he did, like providing jobs to hundreds of people and giving to the church and local charities.

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